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NEEMO 13 Topside Report - Mission Day 8

Status Report From: NEEMO
Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

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In the last report we showed you some work going on near the habitat to prepare for work at a remote worksite. Today we'll follow the crew out to their worksites and see what they accomplished. Also, we'll look at some of the life sciences experiments that we've done on this mission.

You may remember seeing the picture from yesterday of the beginning stages of building Lunasea. The exploration analog is that since the moon is such a smaller planetary body than the earth, you don't have to go as far away to go "over the horizon." But since the radio waves used for communications are line of sight, once you're over the horizon, you're unable to communicate back to the base. On the moon that distance is only a few miles. If we ever want to explore very far beyond our base, we'll have to erect communication towers to extend the range. Lunasea is an analog communication tower. It requires assembly, transportation, and final construction at the new location.

So what's the best way to accomplish this? Build it all near the base and be stuck having to transport a large tower? Take all the pieces to a remote location out of radio contact and build it all there? NASA has to make decisions on these and thousands of other similar "ops concept" questions as we define our lunar architecture.

For NEEMO 13, we built the tower in modules. Each module was built near the base, and then they were transported - via a powered "rover" with a trailer - to their ultimate destination, where final assembly was accomplished. In the pictures below you see the transportation of a module, the beginnings of construction, and the ultimate result. In the middle picture, note the small remotely operated vehicle on the left side of the picture which is allowing the control center to follow along.

Transporting a Lunasea module

Erecting the base

Lunasea erected at the outskirts of the Carpenter Basin The other exploration activity they performed today was dubbed "lunar" coral. We mentioned that they earlier surveyed the neighborhood and noted the coordinates of interesting coral heads, much as a lunar explorer would note and mark interesting geological formations. We analyzed the data and pictures here on Topside, and sent them back to 4 specific sites in order to do much more detailed analyses. In the picture below you see Satoshi and Nick getting their sampling and analyses equipment out to go to work. The navigation device is stored on the cart in the foreground. No coral was harmed during this activity!

Satoshi and Nick analyzing "lunar" coral

Finally, we did some data takes with an ingeneous little Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis - which of course we call PUMA. The goal of this study is to measure and monitor crew metabolic rate changes using a prototype PUMA developed by the NASA Glenn Research Center. Exploration-based EVAs will require three independent measurements of metabolic rate, but currently there is no adequate way to directly measure metabolic rate.

Therefore, this will be a key evaluation of the PUMA calculations as well as providing the opportunity to assess hardware form, fit and function and give feedback in these areas. We did this before and after EVAs, which allowed the device to show the change in metabolism after the EVA. Below you see a PUMA run in progress. The head on the table is where it's stored when not in use!

A data run of the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis

This mission is quickly winding down. Stay tuned for decompression day, coming up soon!

- NEEMO 13 Topside Team

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